To combat the COVID-19 crisis, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday urged Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to amend the conditions for the utilisation of the 14th Finance Commission grants for emergency relief in urban areas.
According to a press release, seeking the personal intervention of the Union Finance Minister, Singh asked her to advise the Ministries of Housing and Urban Affairs and Panchayati Raj to initiate immediate action in this regard so that the said grants could be used to make provision of emergency relief -- medicines, food, etc. -- for the poorest sections by the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) as a fit charge.
ULBs and PRIs should be allowed to utilise grants received under the 14th Finance Commission for emergency provision of relief to mitigate the suffering caused in towns and villages due to the lockdown imposed in the country on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Chief Minister.
In his letter, Singh pointed out that the Punjab government had recently allowed ULBs to use these funds for the fumigation of urban areas.
In continuation of his earlier DO letter addressed to the Union Finance Minister on March 28, 2020, wherein certain suggestions had been made for the consideration of the Ministry of Finance, Singh further informed Sitharaman that these grants are utilised as per guidelines issued by Government of India.
The Chief Minister said that both urban and rural local self-government institutions have unspent funds available which could be immediately utilised for the provision of relief by way of food, medicines, etc to the poor, distressed and the most vulnerable population living in slums, etc.
Noting that these groups were the worst affected due to COVID-19 pandemic on account of the dearth of resources, he stated that in order to mitigate their distress, the Urban Local Bodies and the Gram Panchayats are well placed to contribute effectively as structures of local self-government at the grassroots. (ANI)